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Monday, May 25, 2009
--By Chris Mammen, president, M3 Glass Technologies, Irving, Texas

I am a big believer in what my friend Bill Evans preaches in this same blog: a positive attitude can and will drive our economic recovery. Most of the time I do have a positive attitude, and when I don't, I'm pretty good at faking it. So I had a real conflict going on inside of me last week after spending just three days in Washington, D.C.

I guess that I perceive negativity emanating from D.C. for two reasons: first, most of the news reported out of D.C. these days is either negative on its face, or is contrary to my own fiscally and socially conservative views. The negative press has been well-documented and at this point is just "a given," and my political differences with the "powers that be" are really a personal problem to be remedied through the democratic process. So, there's no reason to let them get me down. The real reason I get a bad attitude soon after arriving in D.C. is disillusionment.

This was our third year in a row to attend the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Summit in D.C. The first time, I was excited and had grand visions of sitting down with my senators and representatives to discuss the issues facing small business. After all, I was there with the U.S. Chamber and thought they would want to hear what I, their constituent, had to say. (At this point, you are laughing at the typically naive first-time visitor to The Hill, right?). Well I wasn't laughing, I felt pretty small after getting turned away at every office I visited, without even getting to talk to a staffer. That's right, I relinquished my control over my own attitude to people I didn't even know, and I "let them" turn me into a cynic with a bad attitude.

I regained control of my attitude pretty fast, though I did remain a devout cynic in regards to our representative form of government. When we returned the next year, we had strength of numbers--a small delegation of award-winning companies, rather than one lone voice. While we did rate a private tour of the Capitol from a congressional staffer (it was her third week in D.C., and I think she found the tour to be educational), we again realized how important we are in Washington's eyes as we were leaving. We had been told that the Congressman was not in, but when we left his office, we saw him leaving through another doorway! Props, however, to Senator Hutchison--she took time to speak (ever so briefly) with us and pose for pictures. Of course, the newfound cynic in me wants you to note that this could have been somewhat self-serving, as she is about to run for governor ...

Last week, our third visit in as many years, saw mixed results again. At least this time I wasn't surprised. The Congressman that dodged us last year made up for it with a lot of special attention, devoting a couple of hours to personally give us an after-hours tour around the Capitol. He seemed sincere, and he does have the best pro-business voting record around, so he somewhat redeemed himself. Our other senator, on the other hand, pretty much blew us off. I had to just laugh. Actually, I had entered the week with a sarcastic attitude toward the whole thing, but I ended up with a net improvement in my feelings about our Congressional delegation.

In the end, I did leave D.C. with a positive outlook. The U.S. Chamber puts on an excellent summit, full of experts and well-known personalities. They are a good resource for small businesses, and (as I discovered first hand), they do have clout on the Hill, and they exercise it on our behalf with much success. They also offer first-class business seminars, but the best part of the summit is the opportunity to meet and interact with other business owners from around the country--this is where meaningful learning takes place. Don't be tempted to cut out professional and personal development when times are difficult, this is when we all need to be growing, learning, and looking for that next opportunity. This is when we need to be setting an example for others in our business community, and even for our employees, by investing in ourselves, our businesses and our economy. It's really a win-win opportunity to improve ourselves and our businesses while helping others to do the same.

Everyone reading this should take at least one such opportunity in 2009: The Glass Build America show in Atlanta Sept. 30-Oct. 2. I personally guarantee* that your benefits in attending the show will come back to you 10-fold. See you there.


*Chris Mammen's personal guarantee only applies if you bring a good attitude and make a bonafide good faith effort to learn something. Does not apply if you already think you know everything. Any claims against this guarantee must be made in writing and must include the correct answer to this question: What is the original source for the title to this blog, "The Captivity of Negativity?" Eligible claims will only receive an e-mail from me telling you that you must not have had a positive enough attitude and stop being a victim! No monetary guarantee is made or implied. Guarantee void in D.C.

Monday, May 18, 2009
During a recent staff meeting, I was reminded just how many important initiatives are underway here and pleased by the forward momentum we are making in spite of the current economic situation. I decided to share a few quick highlights on GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door expo with you in hopes that they will both encourage and inspire you to increase your involvement with your association.

Registration for this fall's GlassBuild America is now open for trade show attendees and education track participants. The program will feature a strong lineup of high-level sessions covering the solar panel industry, energy efficiency and an economic forecast for the window and door market. I encourage you to join us in Atlanta for the largest and most important annual gathering of the North American glass industry, Sept. 30–Oct. 2.

Speaking of GlassBuild America, we continue to receive positive indications daily that our members are resolved to confront the economic headwinds straight on. One tell-tale sign is that new exhibitors are signing up steadily, including some that had previously planned to skip the 2009 show due to budget cuts (see recent press release). We are obviously encouraged by these moves, and believe we are starting to see the initial stirrings of a recovery as companies return to investing in their long-term growth.

We’re introducing a new Innovations Pavilion to GlassBuild America, which we believe will spark additional interest in the show both within and outside the industry. And registration is now open for our 4th annual Glazing Executives Forum, one of the most popular and successful events on the NGA calendar. The one-day event is held the first day of GlassBuild America.

We are well aware that this remains a challenging time for most of our members, and I thank you for staying with us. Together, we will prevail.


--Phil James, president and CEO, National Glass Association, McLean, Va.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Making a profit is vital to a business. That is obvious to all. Getting paid is even more important. At my company we concentrate on getting paid quickly and creating positive cash flow. We have regularly scheduled meeting, every Wednesday morning, which includes all salespeople and our bookkeeper.

The bookkeeper gives a report of all accounts that are at least 30 days old. Each respective salesperson must report to the group the actions, if any, he/she has taken to collect the account. This permits all of us to learn which accounts are slow pay and which accounts do not pay. We have worked diligently at this and our collection period is currently averaging 32.3 days from the date of invoice.

A “third party” approach to collecting works well. We use a “third party” approach to help collect debts. For example, I say to a debtor “My dad always said that people that stay in touch with you will always pay you, but those that do not will always bat you out of it.” By referring to a third party, in this case my father, the message is clear, but not taken as a direct attack. Invariably the response is “I won’t beat you out of it. I’ll pay you.” This response allows you to set deadlines for payment without appearing attacking. The debtor has already promised to pay you. You are merely asking when they will pay you.

Another tool we use to increase our cash flow and reduce our days outstanding is to get deposits when taking the order and collecting the balance immediately upon completion of the job. Most customers are prepared to pay upon completion. Ask for the money.

Good cash flow allows you to pay your vendors within a discount period and take a discount from them. Ask you vendors for better terms. They will increase the discount amounts if you just ask. Two percent 10 days, 1 percent 30 days, net 45 days are all available in these times.

Creating good positive cash flow is a cycle that is vital at all times.
—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville
Friday, May 1, 2009
It's that time of the year again. Give us your best, the most innovative and out-of-the-box products and/or projects, and you might just get to be a proud winner of Glass Magazine's 2009 Crystal Achievement Awards.

For 2009, we’ve added several new categories for the commercial, retail and fabrication markets. Review the instructions for submissions, categories and judging process below; then fill out the nomination form.

The deadline for nominations is May 14, 2009.

Here's how to submit your nomination: To give the judges a fair idea of your product/project, please describe your entry in 400 words or less, with a focus on the unique or innovative elements. For the “most innovative application” categories, only projects completed between May 2008 and May 2009 qualify. E-mail corresponding electronic images to me. The photos must have a resolution of 300 DPI or higher and be in JPG format.

A panel of judges that represent a cross section of the glass industry decide the Crystal Achievement Award winners. Judges are not allowed to vote for their own companies, or in categories in which their companies are competing.

Once nominations are received, Glass Magazine staff members prepare a judging packet consisting of descriptive information and photographs of the entries for the judges to review. If you would like to be a judge for the 2009 Crystal Achievement Awards, please call me at 703/442-4890, ext. 150, or write smukerji@glass.org.

If you have questions or require additional information, please feel free to give me a jingle.

Review the 2009 Crystal Achievement Awards Categories. Submit your nomination today.

Get on the ball now, you don't have a whole lot of time left. May 14 is less than 10 days away. Good luck!

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, April 27, 2009
Making a profit is vital to a business. That is obvious to all. Getting paid is even more important. At my company we concentrate on getting paid quickly and creating positive cash flow. We have regularly scheduled meeting every Wednesday morning which includes all salespeople and our bookkeeper.

The bookkeeper gives a report of all accounts that are at least 30 days old. Each respective salesperson must report to the group the actions, if any, he/she has taken to collect the account. This permits all of us to learn which accounts are slow pay and which accounts do not pay. We have worked diligently at this and our collection period is currently averaging 32.3 days from the date of invoice.

A “third party” approach to collecting works well. We use a “third party” approach to help collect debts. For example, I say to a debtor “My dad always said that people that stay in touch with you will always pay you, but those that do not will always bat you out of it.” By referring to a third party, in this case my father, the message is clear, but not taken as a direct attack. Invariably the response is “I won’t beat you out of it. I’ll pay you.” This response allows you to set deadlines for payment without appearing attacking. The debtor has already promised to pay you. You are merely asking when they will pay you.

Another tool we use to increase our cash flow and reduce our days outstanding is to get deposits when taking the order and collecting the balance immediately upon completion of the job. Most customers are prepared to pay upon completion. Ask for the money.

Good cash flow allows you to pay your vendors within a discount period and take a discount from them. Ask you vendors for better terms. They will increase the discount amounts if you just ask. Two percent 10 days, 1 percent 30 days, net 45 days are all available in these times.


Creating good positive cash flow is a cycle that that is vital at all times.
Monday, April 27, 2009
In case you missed it, NBC's Today Show ran a story, April 17, on concerns about the safety of table glass in American homes.

Citing a study by Children's Hospital Boston and Consumer Reports, the segment stoked fears about the perils for young children exposed to non-tempered tabletop glass and related furniture. The NGA is quoted near the end of the segment supporting both the increased use of safety glass in homes and the rights of consumers to choose the glass that best suits their needs.

This is the latest example of an opportunity the NGA has had to comment on an important, breaking news story. While it is often appropriate for the association to speak on behalf of the industry when the media calls, we would prefer that our members be out front most of the time. Your "on the ground" perspective adds a further degree of credibility, and you can speak more directly to the actual impact economic or governmental factors have on your business.

Please let us know if you'd like to join a group of NGA member spokespersons that we can call upon from time to time. If you'd like to indicate a specific subject or subjects with which you're most comfortable, let us know that, too.

David Walker, Vice President of Association Services, National Glass Association
Friday, April 17, 2009
In the beginning of this month, the Texas Supreme Court upheld its decision that an injured employee of a contractor cannot sue a "premises owner," according to an USA Today article April 3. The court granted a rehearing, but stuck to its decision.

The court made the decision on the case of a turbine mechanic at an Entergy Gulf States plant in Bridge City, Texas. The worker was hurt in 2001 while repairing a leak on a hydrogen generator. Entergy covered the mechanic's injury with a workers' compensation policy that protected it from being sued. In its original 2007 ruling and again during the rehearing, the Texas Supreme Court expanded the immunity that was only applied to suits filed by direct employees to cover contractors as well, according to the article.

State legislators say they never meant the workers' compensation law to apply to contractors, and four lawmakers in December called for the court to reverse its decision.

The court was split 6-3 this time around; the 2007 ruling was unanimous.

Much debate has since been swirling around the issue. The Texas Association of Manufacturers applauded the decision, while Texas Watch, a consumer advocate group, called the ruling a kick in the teeth for workers and legislators.

What do you say as a glazing contractor? Does the court’s decision to protect companies from contractor lawsuits make sense or does it make it easy for premises owners to avoid responsibility?

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, April 13, 2009
You know an industry’s message is beginning to make it into the general public when parody music videos start appearing. Check out this hilarious music video called “Double Panes” about the benefits of insulating glass over single-glazed units (“This record’s going LEED Platinum. If you’ve got skinny windows, you better fatten 'em.”)

John Swanson at Window and Door did a bit of sleuthing and learned the video was made by Matt Harnack, an environmental filmmaker and graduate student at Stanford University. “Double Panes” is set to M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.”

Thanks to Heather West at Heather West Public Relations for passing this along.


[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pezKEkBIhqA]


Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor, Glass Magazine
Monday, April 6, 2009
—Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville

The one thing we can always control is our attitude. How we interpret and react to people and situations influences their reaction to us. Most people suffer from what I call "Chicken Little Syndrome." They believe the sky is falling. If someone calls themselves a realist or pessimist they most assuredly suffer from CLS. They most assuredly look at the glass as half-empty.

The great majority of the news is reported negatively. Our economic crisis is reinforced by compounding negativity. The rare positive statements are followed by a grammatical conjunction and subsequent negative statement, i.e., "Durable good orders were up in February as compared to January, but down compared to last year." Forget the comparison to last year. Look at the positive that durable orders increased. Existing home sales are up and new home sales are up. Forget all statements that dilute these positive statements. I tell my sales and office employees to ignore anything that follows a “but" or "nor” conjunction.

One of my customers printed my philosophy and hung it in their office. “Have a fantastic day and if you’re not, fake it.” Fake it long enough and you will come to believe it.

I emphatically believe that when I change someone’s attitude from defeatist to optimistic, it will lead to a direct change in their spending habits. When people start spending more, the economy will recover quickly. A positive attitude will lead our economic recovery, not the infusion of huge sums of money.

This is my soapbox. I know that I must always repeat it continuously to everyone. Even those to whom I have espoused before need to hear it again. Join me in changing our economy by changing attitudes.

I fully expect to hear from people calling me Pollyanna. Pollyanna ignored facts. I acknowledge them. Employment is at approximately 91 percent; 96 percent is considered full employment. The fact that 91 percent of our population is employed is impressive. The fact that mortgage rates are very low is good for buyers. Gasoline is essentially ½ the price it was last summer. Savings rates are up. That means people have money to spend. Let’s encourage them to do it by creating a positive environment.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The one thing we can always control is our attitude. How we interpret and react to people and situations influences their reaction to us. Most people suffer from what I call "Chicken Little Syndrome." They believe the sky is falling. If someone calls themselves a realist or pessimist they most assuredly suffer from CLS. They most assuredly look at the glass as half-empty.

The great majority of the news is reported negatively. Our economic crisis is reinforced by compounding negativity. The rare positive statements are followed by a grammatical conjunction and subsequent negative statement, i.e., "Durable good orders were up in February as compared to January, but down compared to last year." Forget the comparison to last year. Look at the positive that durable orders increased. Existing home sales are up and new home sales are up. Forget all statements that dilute these positive statements. I tell my sales and office employees to ignore anything that follows a “but" or "nor” conjunction.

One of my customers printed my philosophy and hung it in their office. “Have a fantastic day and if you’re not, fake it.” Fake it long enough and you will come to believe it.

I emphatically believe that when I change someone’s attitude from defeatist to optimistic, it will lead to a direct change in their spending habits. When people start spending more, the economy will recover quickly. A positive attitude will lead our economic recovery, not the infusion of huge sums of money.

This is my soapbox. I know that I must always repeat it continuously to everyone. Even those to whom I have espoused before need to hear it again. Join me in changing our economy by changing attitudes.

I fully expect to hear from people calling me Pollyanna. Pollyanna ignored facts. I acknowledge them. Employment is at approximately 91 percent; 96 percent is considered full employment. The fact that 91 percent of our population is employed is impressive. The fact that mortgage rates are very low is good for buyers. Gasoline is essentially ½ the price it was last summer. Savings rates are up. That means people have money to spend. Let’s encourage them to do it by creating a positive environment.




--Bill Evans, president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville
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